Restaurant Troubles in Fog City

What happens when San Francisco’s famously progressive voters approve laws aimed at taking better care of restaurant workers? Restaurants are left with soaring labor costs, shrinking profits, and few good solutions.

As reported in the weekly Bay Area foodie newsletter The Tablehopper, local restaurateurs met last Thursday to try to figure out solutions. Due to the recent laws mandating sick leave, an increase in minimum wage, and health care provisions, staffing costs are spiking, and this threatens the bottom line. It also makes for an increasing disparity between front-of-the-house staff and kitchen staff, where servers can make up to 2 1/2 times more than cooks.

As the Tablehopper (a.k.a. Marcia Gagliardi) reports, the options are not appealing. From higher prices, to smaller portions, to decreased food quality—none of these are going to make diners happy.

Restaurateurs are trying to find a way to cope with the situation, discussing everything from an additional charge to offset the increases to marching on city hall to call attention to the situation. And there is the ever-tempting option of simply moving outside the city limits.

Marcia feels strongly about the situation: “San Francisco is known and treasured for its vibrant and creative restaurant scene, and we need our local government to start realizing how important (and also beleaguered) this industry is, and start supporting it instead of continuing to break its freaking back.”